Saturday, May 21, 2016

Ranking Captain America: Civil War

Last night my son and I went to see Captain America: Civil War. Let's how this stacks up against other comic book movies I have reviewed.

I have previously ranked the Batman movies, the Superman movies, the other DC movies, the Avengers movies, the X-Men movies, the summer 2015 comic movies, the Spider-Man movies, the non-Marvel and non-DC comic movies, and the Man-Thing.

As ever, my ranking system is
Green=excellent  Blue=pretty good  Black=Okay  Red=avoid

This one was pretty good. Not as good as the first Captain America movie, maybe a little better than the second. I read a review that said it was a relief to have some smaller scale fights after the huge, city-spanning explosion fests of many recent super-hero movies. I'll go along with that. A lot of one-on-one or two-on-two hand-to-hand combat scenes. And in the movie's big set piece, a battle between two groups of superheroes on a runway at the airport in Berlin, there was no world-saving at stake. Just a well-choreographed, fairly clever fight between two groups with different goals.

Calling this a Captain America movie is a little bit of a misnomer. It does carry forward some of the themes of the second Cap movie, but it's really an Avengers flick. Iron Man has almost as much screen time as Cap, and most of the others show up as well, along with Avengers newcomers Spider-Man and Ant-Man, who bring much needed levity.

A fun movie, not great but quite watchable--at least for those who've been keeping up with all the Marvel films. I'm not sure how this would play for someone watching it cold. There are a lot of references to things that've happened in earlier films, a lot of baggage between characters that explain their motivations but aren't spelled out. So maybe not one I'd recommend for everyone, but only for viewers who like superheroes and have been keeping up with developments in the Marvel film universe.


Here's the master list of all comics movies I've rated so far, in order from best to worst:

American Splendor
Iron Man
Heavy Metal (1981)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Superman (1978)
Captain America
Batman Begins (2005)
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
Spider-Man (2002)
X-Men 2: X-Men United
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Superman II
Batman (1989)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Iron Man 3
The Wolverine
Sin City (2005)
X-Men: First Class
Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
Swamp Thing (1982)
Spider-Man 3
Iron Man 2
Watchmen (2009)
Batman Forever (1995)
Superman Returns (2006)
Thor 2: The Dark World
Incredible Hulk (2008)
Mystery Men
Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Man-Thing (2005)
Superman III
Supergirl (1984)
X-Men 3: Last Stand
Hulk (2003)
Fritz the Cat (1972)
Batman and Robin (1997)
Batman Returns (1992)
Superman IV

Amazing Spider-Man (2012) (Haven't seen)
Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) (Haven't seen)
Batman (1966) (Haven't seen)
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Haven't seen)
Catwoman (Haven't seen)
Constantine (Haven't seen)
Deadpool (Haven't seen)
Green Lantern (Haven't seen)
Hellboy (Haven't seen)
Judge Dredd (Haven't seen)
Man of Steel (Haven't seen)
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) (Haven't seen)
V for Vendetta (Haven't seen)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Haven't seen)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What I'm Reading: Roundup

Prince Valiant Volume 1: 1937-38 Absolutely beautiful over-sized hardcover of the first two years of the Sunday-only strip Prince Valiant. Drawn by Hal Foster, who brought an unprecedented skill and dedication to his work, this was an influence for decades on comics artists.

The strip still runs today, although unfortunately today's newspapers don't provide artists with the full-page canvases they had in the 1930s, when the Sunday comics were entertainment for a whole family and one of the main draws of the newspaper. According to the introduction, Hal Foster wrote over 1,000 pages of notes on the details of Prince Valiant's life, from childhood to death, and when he turned the strip over to an assistant in 1980 shortly before his death, was still working from that original plan. I wonder if the artist today, Thomas Yeates, who has done the strip since 2012, still uses those notes?

This was a Christmas gift. Provided I can find the funds and the time, I will definitely be getting Volume 2 at some point.

Squirrel Girl Marvel nowadays has a whole little corner of their universe dealing with the humorous adventures of quirky, lesser-known characters. She-Hulk, Patsy Walker (i.e. Hellcat), and Howard the Duck all have or have recently had fun series, and the creators seem inclined to let them interact. In fact, several of the characters hang out with each other in a building in Brooklyn where She-Hulk's alter ego, Jennifer Walters, has her law office and Howard the Duck has a detective agency.

Squirrel Girl is my favorite of these titles. SG is Doreen Green, a computer science student at Empire State University (where Peter Parker used to attend college). She can talk to squirrels and even has a squirrel tail she uses to help her fight bad guys (and when it's tucked up in her pants it gives her a bodacious booty). Doreen really prefers talking it out with villains and seeing if their are ways they can achieve their goals without using violence, but she's willing to take 'em on physically if that doesn't work out. It's really hilarious and appropriate for kids ages 5 to 100.

Mirror I recently started picking up this series drawn by Emma Rios, one of my favorite artists. It's set on an asteroid inhabited by humans who have been doing experiments on animals to breed warriors (or something) for a big war in space. But that's just the background, the emphasis is on the relationships between the humans and their intelligent human-animal hybrid creations, some of whom rebel against their human masters, some of whom fall in love with them, or serve them for their own reasons. Really, each character has his own unique motivations. Gorgeous, highly intricate artwork and interesting character work.